Episode Grade: B-
“Ms. Labonz? Would you say all grown-ups give up and just become awful?”
There was a lot of promise here. The idea of Louise being confronted with an adult who represents a possible, frankly pretty miserable future for her could’ve yielded a powerful episode. What we got instead was a fine, if slightly uneven, late-era Bob’s Burgers that mostly stuck to the “Unpleasant Adult of the Week” structure that the kids-centric episodes return to from time to time. Which is fine, honestly! Unfortunately, this was also the type of episode that left enough hints of ways that it could’ve been better that it’s hard not so see it as a slight disappointment.
Part of the issue was the pacing. We open with Louise trying and failing to craft an adventure for Kuchi Kopi, but the sequence is over before we really get a sense of what we’re supposed to be getting out of it. It took me until about two thirds of the way through the episode before it clicked that they were trying to portray Louise as being creatively blocked. At the time it just seemed like a bit of filler (though it did function well enough as a callback to “Flu-oise”, which is always welcome). Later, when Louise is punished by having to hang out with Dot in the tech booth, then punished again by having to sit on the bus with Ms. Labonz, it felt like the show was kind of spinning its wheels rather than moving the plot forward.
The other problem was Esther, the mean old woman who runs the Marionette-odeum. Similar to the Food Truck woman from last season, her nastiness to the kids in general, and Louise in particular, made it difficult to care about her own creative crisis and subsequent slide into bitterness and mediocrity. Then, once the puppet battle is finished and she’s gets some measure of a happy ending, it didn’t really feel earned. She was just a little too over-the-top to care about, and the way the episode was set up the viewer needed to be at least a little invested in her as an Adult Louise analogue for the plot to hit the way it was supposed to. Really, Louise herself seemed slightly off all episode. It seemed odd that the most cynical Belcher child would have a hard time believing that the puppet show would be that bad, especially when her more optimistic siblings are telling her it absolutely is.
Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, we get a pretty standard “Bob and Linda and an odd/annoying customer” b-plot that was mostly notable for its lack of Teddy. There were a few good laughs (Linda’s admission that she flicks boogers onto the radiator and Bob’s disgusted reaction was probably the biggest laugh of the night for me), but ultimately the whole thing seemed a little forgettable. Still, if Jimmy Pesto has to deal with two ravers handing out fliers in front of his restaurant tomorrow, then it’s a win for Bob.
- Storefront: The Lids Are All Tight- Storage Containers. Exterminator: Dead’er Done Pest Control
- “It was long and boring and made me want to stop supporting the arts and start actively working against them.” Bob is a savage critic.
- “If I die of boredom, tell my story.” “Oh, you know I will.” Zeke and Jimmy Jr. continue to be the best best friends.
- Bob can now add “handing out fliers” to his list of unexpected skills.
- “We totally had Louise’s back, right?” “You mean other than not speaking up or having her back in any way?” Gene and Tina had a pretty good night on the sidelines. It got me thinking, I’m pretty sure they are the only pairing in the family that haven’t had an A-plot together in an episode yet. That could be interesting.
- “Some do, then some of us just get more amazing every day. Now, let me dip in peace.” Inspirational apathy from Ms. Lebonz.